from the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Mary E.
Tyson appeals the district court's denial of his
application for postconviction relief. AFFIRMED.
B. Mears of Mears Law Office, Iowa City, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Martha E. Trout, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee State.
Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.
Tyson pled guilty to first-degree burglary, second-degree
robbery, third-degree sexual abuse, and second-degree theft.
The district court sentenced him to prison terms not
exceeding twenty-five years, ten years, ten years, and five
years respectively and ordered them to run consecutively, for
a total of fifty years.
filed an application for postconviction relief. He claimed
his trial attorney was ineffective in failing "to advise
[him] that the consecutive sentences were a possibility if he
pled guilty" and was ineffective in investigating his
case. The district court denied the application following an
appeal, Tyson contends (1) his "guilty plea was
constitutionally deficient" because he "did not
understand that he was pleading to consecutive sentences
totaling 50 years" and (2) "there was ineffective
assistance of postconviction counsel in the presentation of
Understanding of Consecutive Sentences
asserts the district court "did not warn" him that
his "sentences could be run consecutively" and
"never asked" him if he understood the meaning of
"consecutive." In his view, these omissions
rendered his guilty plea unknowing and unintelligent.
concedes he failed to file a motion in arrest of judgment
challenging this aspect of his plea despite receiving correct
advice on the consequences of failing to do so, but he
asserts we may review the issue under an
ineffective-assistance-of counsel rubric. We agree. To
succeed, Tyson must establish (1) his trial
"counsel's performance was deficient" and (2)
prejudice resulted. Strickland v. Washington, 466
U.S. 668, 687 (1984).
cannot establish deficient performance. During the plea
proceeding, the prosecutor summarized the plea agreement,
including the prison terms he faced on each charge. The
prosecutor ended with the statement, "These sentences
are to run consecutively and not concurrently, for a total
indeterminate sentence of not to exceed 50 years." The
district court reiterated the range of punishment for each
charge and elicited a response from Tyson that he understood
the range. See Iowa Code § 2.8(2)(b)(2) (2015)
(requiring the court to inform a defendant of "[t]he
mandatory minimum punishment, if any, and the maximum
possible punishment provided by the statute defining the
offense to which the plea is offered"). Although the
court did not elaborate on the distinction between
consecutive and concurrent sentencing, the
meaning was clear: one could only reach fifty years if the
sentences on the respective counts were run in succession.
v. White,587 N.W.2d 240, 243 (Iowa 1998), cited by
Tyson, does not alter our conclusion. There, the defendant
pled guilty without receiving any advice about consecutive
sentences from "any . . . source, " including
"the judge or defendant's lawyer."
White, 587 N.W.2d at 241, 243. The supreme court
reversed the plea after emphasizing that "[n]o
information from any source indicated to the defendant in any
way that his maximum possible punishment was twenty years of
imprisonment as a result of sentences imposed to be served
consecutively." Id. at 243. Tyson, in contrast,
was informed that he faced up to fifty years in prison.
See State v. Tiegen, No. 09-0465, 2009 WL 3380065,
at *2 (Iowa Ct. App. Oct. 21, 2009) (distinguishing
White on the ground "the written pleas of
guilty show [the defendant] was aware that any terms of
incarceration might be imposed to run consecutively, and that
his claim his pleas were not knowing and voluntary is thus